New Portuguese restaurant in Hartford named after owner’s hometown of Chaves

In the northern Portuguese town of Chaves, there is a castle, which was built in the 14th century by order of the king to keep an eye on the nation’s border with Spain.

In the newly opened restaurant in Hartford, also called Chaves, there is a mural of the Castelo de Chaves, to put diners in the mood for authentic Portuguese cuisine.

Elizabeth Perreira, the restaurant’s owner, is a native of Chaves who emigrated to the United States at age 13. Perreira once worked at The now-closed Nutshell Cafe and at the Portuguese restaurant Primavera, primarily planning events. Perreira wanted a restaurant of her own.

When Ipanema closed in August, she grabbed the location and hired her former co-worker at Primavera, Helder Silva, to take over the kitchen.

“We have included recipes from each area of Portugal, the islands, Porto, other areas, and some typical Portuguese dishes that they eat all over the country, like codfish. Everybody in Portugal eats codfish,” Perreira said.

Portuguese cuisine has a robust following in the Hartford area. Perreira is excited to jump into the scene. “There is a lively community here. People who move out still come back to Hartford to eat the food, not just from the suburbs, from Waterbury and other cities, from out of state,” she said.

The restaurant opened for takeout on Dec. 4, then a few days later for eat-in, BYOB. It opened for full-service on Dec. 16.

The menu starts with appetizers. Salgadinhos (two codfish cakes and two shrimp cakes) is $5.25. Fried quail and fried yucca go for $6.25. Tableside-flamed chouriço is $8.95 and garlic-sauteed shrimp is $9.25. Octopus salad and a mixed seafood plate are each $10.25. Littlenecks in garlic broth and clams in tomato sauce with chouriço are $11.25. Also on the appetizer menu are chicken wings and a charcuterie board.

Perreira said one of the specialties of the house is the Francesinha à Porto sandwich ($13.75), with beef and sausage topped with an egg and melted cheese. Other sandwiches on the menu are grilled chicken or chouriço for $7.75, grilled flounder for $8.25, grilled pork for $8.75 and grilled steak for $9.75.

The seafood menu offers codfish cooked three ways: shredded ($17.25), grilled ($21.25) and boiled ($21.75). Salmon is $20.25, spicy shrimp is $16.75, snapper and octopus are both $22.25, shrimp-and-squid is $16.75 and a shrimp-squid-mussels-clams plate over linguine is $18.25.

Another specialty of the house is bife à açoriano, a fried steak topped with garlic and pickled peppers in a wine sauce, for $19.75. Grilled chicken, chicken over pasta and pork loin are each $16.75. Pork-and-clams is $17.75, steak topped with ham and egg is $18.25 and pork-and-steak is $18.75. A ribeye steak, with or without shrimp, is $24.25. A paella of chicken, pork, chourico, lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp and scallops is $20.25.

Specials of the day are posted each morning on the restaurant’s Facebook page,

Perreira, who lives in Newington, has a day job at Voya Financial in Windsor. On her off hours, she can be found at Chaves, going from table to table, making sure everyone is comfortable and happy.

Her niece and nephew, Diana and Jorge Pinho, both work in the dental industry. But in their off hours, they help out their aunt in the restaurant when they can. Jorge painted the mural of the Castelo de Chaves.

Chaves is at 1819 Park St. in Hartford. Hours are Monday and Wednesday to Saturday 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., closed Tuesdays.

Susan Dunne can be reached at